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SKYROS is the second largest island of the Sporades, at 215 square kilometers.

Although Skyrian architecture reminds one of the whitewashed Cycladic islands, more than haf the island is covered with a dense pine forest. Skyros is famous for its amazing beaches and for its beautiful capital town. Skyros is mentioned in Greek mythology. On the one hand, Thesseus, king of Athens, of Minotaur fame, was said to die and have been buried here. On the other hand, nymph Thetis supposedly sent her son, Homeric hero Achilles, to Skyros, dressed as a girl, to prevent his fatal going to Troy. Skyros became an Athenian colony in 470 BC and by the Macedonians of Alexander the Great in 332 BC. The Romans returned the island to Athenian rule in 196 BC. During the Byzantine rule, Skyros was used an exile for eminent dissidents. The church of Saint George, up in the castle, was founded in 960 AD. With the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade, in 1204, the Aegean was split among Venetian and Genoese masters. From then until the Greek revolution of 1821, Skyros changes masters every 50 years or so, among Venetians, Byzantines, Ottomans and Russians. The island becomes a hotbed of revolutionary activity in 1821 and joins the newly liberated state in 1829. The island is split into two by Achilli, a narrow, 4 km-long strip of land, that once was underwater. The northwest part of the island is covered with pine forests. The southeast part is almost barren brings to mind the Cycladic islands. This is where the famous Skyrian ponies still roam. For trekkers and hikers, the island offers a few small mountains and tall hills, such as Kochlias (794 m), Olympos (390 m), Marmaro (394 m), Klari (331 m), Afanes (327 m), Oros (316 m) and Ai Lias (294 m). Skyros is sparsely populated, and is home to about 3 thousand permanent residents. Skyros Town, or Chora, is the island's center and home to about 80% of the population. Chora is built behind a steep cliff and is not visible from the sea, for fear of pirates during the Middle Ages. The houses of that period were very small and clustered together for better defense. The island's museum exhibits the tiny furniture from that era.

The island is not a major tourism destination and surface access is limited to the ferry boat from Kymi, in Evia. The only boat that runs this route is aged and the trip takes about 2 hours although the distance is very short.

 

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